Generalizations, big ideas, abstractions, universal themes… they are designed to help our gifted students learn. However, what I didn’t realize was that they would help me teach!
Complexity vs Skill
When a task's complexity doesn't correctly match a student's skill, we end up with boredom or frustration. Often, for gifted students, a successfully differentiated task will simply increase complexity until it begins to challenge a kid's skill.
Depth and Complexity Icons
These eleven thinking tools will give your students practical ways to think more deeply about a topic.
Differentiate With Classics
Here's a quick way to differentiate for gifted learners, swap out that boring story for a classic. Here are lots of free resources for finding and using classics online.
Differentiation Gone Wrong
Boy do textbooks like to use the word "differentiation," but it's almost like they don't know what it means!
A fuzzy problem, also known as an "ill-defined problem", is one without a perfectly clear goal, path to success, or known solution. Most of the issues we grapple with are fuzzy in some way. Few of the problems we give students are fuzzy, however. Here are some ways to change that.
Rather than making them passive listeners, how do we set the stage so students actively uncover information?
Information about how to differentiate within language arts.
How you can differentiate math lessons to reach your gifted learners.
Think Like A Disciplinarian
When we ask students to Think Like A Disciplinarian, we move them towards expert thinking by giving them tools to attack problems in the way that a specific expert would. Students may think like a Philosopher, Statistician, Artist, Doctor, and so on.
Some little genius might suggest the environmental impact of creating bricks versus using the easily renewable sticks and straw. Perhaps there is a negative economic effect of using bricks for a house. Now students can evaluate the choice in a whole new light. And all we did was add a couple words to the question.
Wondering what to do with your early finishers? This is probably the wrong question!
In a climate where we focus on who’s below-level, how many students are already ready for next year (and beyond)? Research from Johns Hopkins sheds light on the shocking number of above-level kids out there.
One of the most significant barriers to differentiating for gifted learners is a misunderstanding of the purpose of grade-level standards. People see grade-level standards as a maximum. The truth is the complete opposite.
When differentiating, it’s helpful to note where on the “spectrum of abstraction” your content lies. Then, see what happens when you move that content to be more abstract or more specific. It often unlocks lots of new opportunities for thinking.